Friday, December 9, 2016

More than half of B.C.’s most expensive homes owned by secret shell companies spurring money laundering fears

Almost half of Vancouver’s 100 most expensive homes are bought using shell companies or other financial tools that obscure the identity of the true owners, a report from anti-corruption group Transparency International says.

The report, which focuses on money laundering and tax evasion vulnerabilities in Canadian real estate through a study of Vancouver luxury homes, slams Canada for failing to close home-ownership loopholes related to shell companies, trusts and nominees.

The report also concludes the prevalence of non-transparent ownership in B.C. luxury real estate makes it impossible to measure how much offshore cash is invested in B.C. homes, even though B.C. is attempting to collect data on foreign ownership.

“An influx of overseas capital is one of several causes of rising property prices, (in Vancouver and Toronto) but the extent and impact of foreign investment remains unknown since very little data is collected on property owners,” the report says. “Individuals can use shell companies, trusts and nominees to hide their beneficial interest in Canadian real estate.”

Compared to other advanced economies, Canada has weak transparency laws, the report states.  (more...)


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